Posts Tagged ‘poetry’


Moonstone Arts Center Poetry Presents An Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry: Featuring Austin Poet and Singer/Songwriter Jim Trainer, Don Bajema and Maleka Fruean
Austin, Texas – What is a poet but someone who reshapes the listener’s perspectives and challenges the reader to think differently about the world. Vision is a subtle thing in the hands of those who express it well.

Jim Trainer expresses his vision through poetry.

good poetry

it’s hard to find
but it’s hard to find
in the dark
hard to find
a woman with a
heart of gold.
so what?
Rumi was drunk
on the
word of god
and Papa was just
drunk in Los Angeles
Levine wasn’t drunk
at all
and Dylan Thomas
drank it all.
good poetry
sings out
it finds you
it wins you.
good poetry
takes you out of
the arena
it re-doubles you
with an impossible
it sends you
out into the wasted land
collecting grains of rice
with just a bowl
& a song.

Trainer lives with impossible – and impassioned – intimacy.

The stations of this poet’s cross have included time as a hardcore homeless punk; an acting student, a communications major, a late night freeform pirate radio DJ, a power washing remover of pigeon shit from I-95; a driver for touring metal bands; a landscaper in the projects of his native Philadelphia, a crew chief supervising underpaid hardworking minority men in converting an old candy factory into condos for the rich and largely white, and, as he recalls today, “a bartender at a pizza shop in Shitsmear, Delaware.”

Oh, yes, and a quite short stint as sexton in a Presbyterian church where he collected one, maybe two, paychecks.

Trainer’s, then, is a life led, not learned in a classroom. And he extracts from those varied experiences the essence of what it means to be a living, breathing, craving, wounded and compassionate soul in this world, mining the same rich veins that Bukowski did before him … Bukowski, who “not only showed me how to write (simply, yet profoundly), but also showed me how to live,” as Trainer notes.

Trainer, the poet, was trained by the poet Bukowski. And so it goes.

Other exemplars Trainer have turned to include poets Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine and Lamont B. Steptoe and songwriters such as Warren Zevon, John Lee Hooker, Cory Branan and Randy Newman.

So it’s not surprising that Trainer also is at home with a guitar and a harmonica, bringing his biting lyrics and bittersweet stories to life with the same fervor that defines his readings.

Now living in Austin, Texas, that so-called live music capital of the world, Trainer performs frequently in listening room venues, coffeehouses, wine bars and dive bars throughout the city. His 2010 recording “Swamp Demo” captures the unique sound he’s cultivated in the sonic soils of east coast guile and Americanish authenticity, and today, Trainer says “In the past, when something devastating or heartbreaking happened to me, I would be inspired to write a song and take refuge in music … Now that life isn’t a series of heartbreaks, I hope to move songwriting to the forefront and do it as regularly and daily as I write poetry.”

But it doesn’t stop there. The poet and performer is a communicator with a digital dais in the form of the blog, “Going For the Throat,” where he opines and pontificates on moods of the moment.

Also reading at the Moonstone Arts Center Event:

Maleka Fruean is a writer, publicist, community events coordinator, and artist. She has recently been named as one of the writers in residence at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. She’s created and organized events and programming for Big Blue Marble Bookstore, iMPerFEct Gallery, Torchlight Collective, and more, and has read her prose and poetry all the way from Tribes Gallery in New York to communal houses in West Philly. Her writing has appeared in Molotov Cocktail, WHYY News Works, Germantown Avenue Parents, Patch and Elevate Difference (formerly The Feminist Review).

Novelist, screenwriter, actor and spoken-word performer Don Bajema first came onto the literary scene in the early 90s with Boy In The Air (2.13.61). A proud son of Newfoudland, Canada and current resident of New York City, Bajema has toured extensively in the US, Canada and Europe, sharing the spoken word stage with the likes of Hubert Selby, Henry Rollins, and Jim Caroll. His latest collection of short stories, “Winged Shoes and a Shield”, was released in October 2012 by City Lights Books.

Moonstone Arts Center Poetry Presents An Evening of Spoken Word and Poetry featuring Maleka Fruean, Don Bajema and Jim Trainer.
7 pm Wedensday December 11 at Brandywine Workshop
728 S. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19146

CONTACT: Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288


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CONTACT: Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288, jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com

Austin Poet and Singer/Songwriter Jim Trainer Reads From His Full Length Poetry Collection

I don’t know why
between trouble&the Blues
we’re expected to function this way
some small window
some real gamble
we may have
day in the sun
we may ride high
some fearless Nights
we will have to come back down
we will have to hash it out
between trouble&the Blues.

-from between trouble&the Blues by Jim Trainer

June 10, 2013, Philadelphia, PA: Jim Trainer will read from his debut poetry collection, Farewell to Armor, on June 27, 2013, at Mugshots (
1925 Fairmount Avenue
 19130). The reading will also feature Philadelphia poet, visual artist and singer/songwriter Bevan McShea (Pheonix Veil).

Jim Trainer is a communicator. Growing up in the hardcore punk scene of the early ’90s taught him everything he needed to know about real work. Trainer put in the work, playing a vivid mix of blues/folk music around venues up and down the east coast, across the country, and many, many Philadelphia bars, house concerts, and coffee shops. It gained him a following, becoming known for his intense style that rode the artistic fine balance of romantic longing and unexpected social commentary. Trainer also read his poetry out extensively, and one of the readings led to his first full-length poetry book, Farewell to Armor, published by local press WragsInk.

Trainer took inspiration from a Bukowski biography, learning that the great poet didn’t start writing until he was 35. That’s when he really got serious about getting the words down, on a President XII manual typewriter for $17. “I devoted myself to the simple line,” says Trainer, who now resides in Austin, Texas, and plays a regular rotation of music and poetry there. “I remember mornings coming off a graveyard shift, just beat-to-hell tired, pulling into the Shell, getting a quart of beer and heading home where I’d type and drink into the 8-9-10 a.m. hours. Looking back, I think I was forging a new language for myself. I had to get those lines down simple, and quick, because I was working three jobs. It was my only release. Writing has always been a means of survival for me.”

He’s carried the torch for independent media, broadcasting as one of the early voices of Radio Volta 88.1FM while writing for the Philadelphia IMC’s wire in the early ’00s. He currently serves as contributor, editor and curator of Going For The Throat, a semi-daily publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance.

Lamont Steptoe is a poet, activist, Vietnam Veteran, photographer and founder/publisher of Whirlwind Press. He is the author of ten books of poetry. He was awarded the Life-time Achievement Award by the Kuntu Writers Workshop from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in 1996 and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Steptoe was awarded the American Book Award in 2005. In 2004, rapper Mos Def, opened the Def Poetry Jam program on HBO with a poem from Mad Minute. He has collaborated with Sonia Sanchez, Allen Ginsburg, Ishmael Reed, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Sam Allen.

Philadelphia artist and musician Bevan McShea has been writing poems since childhood. He began performing spoken word poetry as Lightborn after the international success of two underground hip hop albums. Freestyle and a capella versions of the songs live on stage became more appealing than the lyrics over beats, due to the focus on the subject matter content, and after a successful feature role at NuYorican Poets Cafe,  Bevan shifted his writing style to fit the spoken word format.

Promotional copies and book samples available upon request. For more information about the reading, or Farewell to Armor, please contact Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288, jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com


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Love poetry? Love Philly? Well then here is your chance as WragsInk has put out the long anticipated Anthology Philly, Poetry Edition. Editor Dennis Finocchiaro collects the finest of new poets from the Philadelphia area and publishes them into a nice little book with an amazing cover by Colleen McCarthy. Poets include L. Haber, Veronica Bowlan, Calvin Reed and many, many more!

It’s available on Amazon and, if you’re in the area, one of the following events:

Saturday, August 25th, Infusion 4pm
7133 Germantown Ave, Phila 19119

Friday, September 7th, 1518 Bar & Grill 6pm
1518 Sansom Str, Phila 19102

Saturday, September 15th Coffee Beanery 4pm
100 West State St, Media 19063

Thursday, September 20th Bindlestiffs 6pm
45th and Baltimore, Phila 19143

Saturday, September 22nd Princeton University 4pm
**Details to come**

Tuesday, September 25th Mermaid Inn 7.30pm
7673 Germantown Ave, Phila Pa

Saturday, September 29th Mugshots Fairmount 4pm
1925 Fairmount Ave, Phila 19130

Saturday, October 6th Coffee Beanery 4pm
100 West State St, Media 19063

Saturday, October 27th Infusion 2pm
7133 Germantown Ave, Phila 19119

Saturday, November 17th Mugshots Fairmount 4pm
1925 Fairmount Ave, Phila 19130

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Breaking through creative barriers isn’t always easy, but sometimes artists have deadlines

By Lyndsaye Ruda

With an artist, there is no such thing as a balanced schedule. I’ve never known any artist (of any type: film, word, pictures, music, etc) who is able to successfully create on a schedule. Art cannot be forced.

I have always had a difficult time with my own creative outlets. I go through phases where I cannot write, only draw, then I’ll go through phases where I can only paint, and nothing else gets accomplished. However, there are times I sit down and let my brain fart around until the creative juices take over. It’s the best way to break down a creative writer’s block, so to speak. Just write. Just draw. Just paint. It may turn out to be garbage, but it will allow you to push through that wall that has been preventing you from getting to the good stuff.

In addition to internal barriers there is the external force that goes along with it. I work full time in a demanding industry at a very strategic and proactive company which requires an exhaustive amount of energy and motivation. By the end of an eight hour (sometimes longer) work day, the last thing I want to do is draw, or write, or paint, or film. I usually need some recovery time. Top that off with housework that needs to be done, homework for my classes (master-level courses), and taking care of three sets of mouths that need feeding, legs that need exercising, minds that need activating, and I don’t even have children! I cannot image what that would be like. Two cats and a dog are enough for me!

My down time usually consists of tweeting my dearest friends online (most of which I have not met personally), whilst enjoying a good BBC show on big cats, or a movie usually featuring Robert Downey Jr. or, these days especially, Tom Hiddleston.

Do I get everything done that I need to? Why yes, I do. So long as I have a time frame for it, or a specified deadline, it will be completed in time. No deadline = no promises. It’s not that I’m not motivated without a deadline, it’s just that I get a lot of requests for things to do, so I prioritize based on what needs to be done first.

How do I do it?

That’s a good question, actually. There is no formula. It requires balance, and life is never perfectly balanced. Some things wait. The dishes don’t always get done every week. Sometimes they wait a few extra days. Sometimes I sleep less (not the best idea, but I always find the time to catch up on my rest). Sometimes I Skype chat with my Twitter friends while I clean the house or work on an art piece. Sometimes I ask my husband to watch the dog for the night… actually, I usually do that… And sometimes, although as a last resort, I need extensions.

I am busy, yes, but I put that pressure on myself. I have an active mind, so I try to keep it occupied. In the last two years I have grown as a person and have experienced so much. I like to keep on my toes, and I enjoy the rush of completing projects, doing research, learning something new, making someone happy, and creating something interesting. That’s just my formula for my own motivation. I can’t tell you how to come up with one for yourself. You have to figure out your own fomula.

Images also by Lyndsaye Ruda.

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Rich Okewole of WragsInk does a quick interview.

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Local publishing company WRAGSInk takes root in Philadelphia, giving writers a path to their dreams.

By Rich Okewole
If you have ever been to the now defunct Borders, if you love to read, love to write or just happen to be reading this publication, you may have wondered at some point – “How does one get published?”

The ugly truth is, whether it’s through a blog or online publishing sites (like Lulu) many quickly realize how hard it is to get heard in the literary world.

There are so many ears listening to so few voices. We are bombarded with (great) mammoth writers such as Stephanie Meyers and JK Rowling, but we forget, at one point in time, Rowling was also unpublished, Meyers too. What makes them stand out where the vast majority remains still??

Talent? Yes, Of course but that is not enough to get your story seen by Penguin Books. Talent has to be recognized, has to nurtured and fed, and allowed to grow in a way that connects with a large audience or a small specific niche.

It is in this vein that WRAGSInk, a publishing company run by brothers, Richard, Alan and Dimeji Okewole has really excelled. With a talented team of editors, publicist and designers, this family-focused-start-up company is flourishing using a business model that transcends the customary boundaries in these ‘harsh economic times.’

“Working with WRAGSInk has been nothing but a delight… the team cares so much, makes contact with their authors over matters and come up with innovative, new ways to expand the market for their books. They genuinely care about their authors and do their best to do whatever they can to get the work out to the public.” Dennis Finocchiaro, author of The Z Word and flash fiction Capturing A Moment, published by WRAGSInk and available on their website.

With successful signings all over Philadelphia, the WRAGSInk clientele and following has ballooned in its short eleven-month inception.

“We get a lot of submissions and a lot of what we see is good, I mean its Philly, but we especially go after the diamonds in the rough. We are attracted to writers who are talented, motivated and passionate about their craft.” CFO Alan Okewole.

The fledgling company launched in February 2011 with its first novel, Kingston’s Return by Canadian author Fimo Mitchell. The serendipitious meeting was made online while Fimo was teaching in China!! WRAGSInk handled the cover art, editing, copyright, while giving the author full ownership of his work.

“It’s completely free to work with us. We edit & print, organize book signings, can handle cover art, publicity, the re-edits, we take care of everything. All you have to do is be the artist… so you don’t pay money, you pay with sweat and passion,” says Richard Okewole, CEO.

“People do give up …” as eldest brother Dimeji points out during the interview. “The reality of the writing world is a harsh one, but for a few, listening/reading audiences can be built. WRAGSInk is lending a helping hand.”
Richard, Alan and Dimeji, three immigrants who came to the U.S.A 15 years ago, with a Nigerian father and Jamaican mother, believe family must be a staple in building a successful business platform. “Johnson & Johnson, Walmart… all about family… agreeing, disagreeing, agreeing to disagree… if you don’t have a family minded foundation it won’t last.” They fulfill the essence of the American-dream-done-the-right-way.

This is the WRAGSInk appeal, and it is genuinely unique.

WRAGSInk’s future projects, Dawn of the Greek Gods (pictured below) and Presidents of the United States show the progress and vision of the company. With local educators like Charla Whittaker, Lois Miller and Bieber Elementary Schools’ Sam Reed at the helm of projects, the interactive card games fuses learning and fun in a way that both parents and kids love.

“Once we started we knew we wanted to be the next niche, local, fresh outlet for the voices of the city. We really capture the zeitgeist of what we see going on here in Philadelphia, and we encourage everyone to join. We love bringing local dreams to life.”

It is time to stop accepting that only a chosen few get their voices heard!!! As one big company folds and others throw up huge barriers, why not get your literary fix from WRAGSInk or better yet get published by WRAGSInk.

For more information contact Richard Okewole directly @610.809.6033 or by email, wragsink@gmail.com.

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By Dennis Finocchiaro

With the start of 2012, everyone is thinking about resolutions; some plan to lose weight and exercise, others might want to try new things, start a hobby, hit that museum they keep thinking about…so I asked some of the WragsInk staff and the Philly Anthology authors about their writing/publishing resolutions for 2012. Here’s how they responded:

Rich Okewole, publisher extraordinaire, says

“My resolution is to do a better job of handling my task list on a daily basis and to constantly try to fix things from the day before.”

Dimeji Okewole, more of a list guy, says,

  • Ongoing improvement as a publisher.
  • Do more legwork (as much as possible).
  • Get to more local readings

Bill Freas of the story Baked Goods had this to say:

1. Adhere to style standards enough to be respected, but not so much you lose your soul.
 2. Develop characters rich enough that you actually would want to have a drink with them to get further in their brains.
 3. Only write stories that I NEED to tell and set the crap aside – those may turn from crap to gold next year.
 4. Stop letting the negative voices from outside my head get inside and make noise, thus disrupting the writing.
 5. Don’t feel constrained by genre – hybrids tend to be more effective anyway.

Jordyn Occhipinti – author of How Do You Like Your Deer Meat?, says

“My writing resolutions are: to quit making excuses, to quit being so scared, to be more daring, adventurous, precise and delicate, to be less embarrassed, to write so much more, to find some sort of comforting discomfort or discomforting comfort in truth and practice and commitment to craft, to find the time, to stop abusing the thesaurus, to stop avoiding the impulse, to finally share and to finally show.”

Kathryn Evans Ombaum, author of Fresh:

“My writing resolutions for 2012 are simple: write everyday in some
way.  I have my blog, my editing clients, my unfinished short stories,my recent trip to Kenya to get out of my head –  I have so much to do! So no excuses for too much Facebook and reality television, if I’m not working, caring for my child, or sleeping, why not write?”

John Fowler of the story Peephole, says,

“My resolution for 2012 is to break this writer’s block.  The last story that I wrote was over a year ago and that was for a creative writing class.  It was a lot easier to discipline myself when I knew I had a grade to earn.  Aside from procrastination, I also need to start reading more.  The more you read the better writer you become. ”

Eric McKinley, author of Lamar’s Inheritance:

“I have a couple of resolutions: 1). Make every character I write this year have one memorable moment. 2). Finish a first draft of the novel I’m working on.”

Angela Marchesani of the short story Open had this to say:

“I resolve to continue practicing the verbal description of physical experiences—- something I struggle with and avoid.
I resolve to move forward with my book project and to take steps EACH day toward the final product.
I resolve to experiment with different types of writing and seek new arenas in which to share my writing.”
Steve Rauscher, author of New Face in Hell:

“I need to devote an hour a night to my writing so I can finish the novel I’ve been working on since 2008 by 2013!”

Shawn Proctor, author of Heartwood and another list guy, says:

1. Find an agent for first novel. Stop wondering why it took so long to finish.
2. Finish second novel.
3. When in the middle of a project, write according to the Michael Chabon’s writing plan: 5 days a week, 1,000 words a day. (Try it. Your mileage may vary.)
4. Submit three times for every rejection. Seriously.
5. Read writers who inspire me. Write them each a message thanking them for being amazing.
6. Write something so amazing another writer will send me a thank you message.

Robert Masciantonio of the short New Girl in Town had this to say:

“In 2012 I’d like to get a few literary and comic books out there.”

Alisha Ebling, author of The Letter:

“My New Year’s Resolution for writing is to just continue to do it every day, no matter what. The more practice, the better it gets, and the less likely your characters and story are to become something foreign that you can no longer relate to.”

So how about other authors out there? They always say it’s good that goals that have been written down are more likely to be achieved, why not comment here and let us know? Thanks for stopping by.

Anthology Philly is the upcoming collection of short stories by Philadelphia authors. Editor Dennis Finocchiaro, author of Capturing a Moment and The Z Word, chose the best of new authors from the area and WragsInk compiled them into a book.

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